PEACH COUNTY, Ga. — A Georgia woman wants justice for her husband, who was killed in a pedestrian crash. The driver who hit him is not facing any charges, even though he said on the 911 call he was going too fast. The man’s widow wants to know if no charges have been filed because he was not in a crosswalk when he was hit and killed.
Sheila Bonney got emotional talking about her husband, Paul, who died when a car hit him on the side of the road on St. Patrick’s Day in 2018.
“My birthday is coming up in a few weeks, and I can’t even… just the thought of him not here,” she said. “I mean, he was everything to me."
Paul Bonney was a part-time Uber driver. He stopped along Dunbar Road to pick up a rider after a Greyhound bus broke down along I-75 in Byron, Georgia. He was standing on the side of the road helping the rider get to his car when he was hit.
“When he was coming back across the fence was when this kid going too fast came up … and hit him,” said Bonney.
The crash report states Paul took a step backward onto the road when the car hit him.
Channel 2 obtained a recording of the 911 call the 19-year-old driver made just moments after the crash.
“I know, sir. I do admit I was driving a little fast,” the driver said. He admitted the same thing a second time: “I do admit I was going a little fast. I was putting on my brakes.”
The driver, whom we are not identifying because he has not been charged, told Channel 2's Tom Regan he was not speeding.
Despite the 911 call, the driver is currently not facing any charges.
“Do you think they’re just dismissing it, the police department?” Regan asked Bonney. “All the blame was put on my husband, which wasn’t the case,” she answered.
Regan met with Trooper Shane Pierce, with the Georgia State Patrol, to learn how pedestrian crashes are investigated. We wanted to know, in a case where the pedestrian isn’t in a crosswalk and the driver appears to be speeding, if the driver would be charged.
“If we can prove it, yes, because we always say you can’t yield to what you can’t see,” said Pierce.
We emailed the Georgia Department of Public Safety to ask if the investigator handling Paul Bonney’s crash had listened to the 911 call. We were told he is on leave and our question was forwarded to him. We haven’t heard back yet.
We asked Pierce if it matters if a pedestrian isn’t in a crosswalk when they are hit.
“We work all the scenes the same because we have to establish what happened where. We have to establish where that crime was committed, gather all the evidence and then prosecute it from there,” said Pierce.
We filed an open records request for nearly three years' work of pedestrian crash reports in two areas where they happen frequently: Buford Highway in Doraville and Brookhaven and Fulton Industrial Boulevard in South Fulton County.
We received 77 reports and found that in cases where pedestrians were not in a crosswalk, drivers were charged only six times. Two cases involved construction workers who were hit, two involved alcohol and two involved drivers’ mistakes. In most cases, the pedestrians were at fault.
Sheila Bonney said her husband didn’t do anything wrong.
“I’m just trying to get justice for him,” she said.
When asked about the driver who hit her husband, she said, “I would like for him (to) at least get some kind of charge, you know, failure to control vehicle, something.”
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